Brady Bids Farewell
After 42 years as a police officer - 30 years as chief of Montgomery Township Police - Richard Brady arrived for his last shift Thursday morning. Colleagues, township staff and family were there to send him off into retirement
Here's a story of a chief named Brady.
He was a Norristown boy, who went on to serve his country in Vietnam.
He raised two children, and is now a granddad to five.
He worked his way up through the ranks of Montgomery Township Police since 1970. At that time, there were seven officers on the force. He saw the force double, triple, quadruple and surge in size. He brought on new technologies and kept the department as a top-notch, high-class institution.
He was there to see his training officer David Hancock killed in the line of duty; he was there to pick up the pieces and solve the crime.
Now, 42 years later - spending his entire police career at Montgomery Township, 30 of them as chief - Brady hung up the holster and turned in his badge.
He's 10-10 ... permanently.
He has the right to remain relaxed and retired.
On Thursday morning, at 8:30 a.m., Brady arrived at Montgomery Township Administration in full uniform.
Waiting for him were colleagues past and present, township staff, family and friends, flanked on either side of the sidewalk leading up the entrance.
Old and familiar faces included Lansdale Police Chief Robert McDyre, former Montgomery Township Manager John Nagel, Hatfield Police Chief Mark Toomey, former Montgomery Township Lieutenant Gordon Simes (Ret.), former Whitemarsh Township Police Chief Jesse Stemple, Upper Gwynedd Township Police Chief David Duffy, District Judge Andrea Duffy, Lansdale Police Sgt. Alex Kromdyk and Montgomery County Sheriff Eileen Behr.
Brady was at a loss for words during the gathering Thursday morning.
"When all your friends, coworkers and associates come out to honor you, it's very heartwarming," Brady said. "It's hard to put into words what I'm feeling. You don't realize you touched so many people."
Brady said he was glad to get a job as a police officer following his stint with the Army from 1966 to 1969. He was military police in Vietnam in 1968.
Six years after joining the force in 1970, Brady was promoted to detective. He became detective sergeant in 1979. Two years later, he was deputy chief. Brady was bestowed with Montgomery Township Police Chief in 1982.
"Forty-two years is an awful long time," he said.
Brady said he would miss the men and women of Montgomery Township Police.
"You get very close to them," he said, "watching them grow and see them become professionals in their own right."
Brady will always carry one moment with him from the past 42 years: the death of Officer David Hancock in the line of duty.
Hancock, 41, a 10-year veteran of Montgomery Township Police, was murdered Dec. 11, 1976 at 3:40 a.m. on the property of the J.C. Penney Auto Center next to Montgomery Mall. The mall was set to open one month later.
"I was there when we made the arrest," Brady said.
The suspect was Larry J. Phillips, of Philadelphia, who was nabbed two days later and convicted in 1977. Phillips remains incarcerated to this day and for the rest of his life.
Hancock was attempting to raise the prisoner screen in his patrol car when the suspect grabbed his gun and shot him in the head.
"He was 19 when he committed murder," he said.
Brady was proud of and dedicated to keeping up with the growth of the township. He applied the same effort to new police technologies, like Livescan, video arraignments and the Automated Fingerprint Identification System.
"I wanted to ensure the officers had all the educational opportunities I could afford to them," he said. "I wanted to stay on top of everything. That's the way I liked it and I hope it will stay that way."
Montgomery Township Deputy Chief Scott Bendig called Brady's tenure "an era."
"What else can you say?" he said. "The best thing is he was a professional. He wants you out there doing your job. He wants the best for the residents."
Montgomery Township Supervisors Chairwoman Candyce Chimera said Brady helped the township get to where it is today. She said he was there for the population explosion in the 1990s.
Above all, Brady was professional, she said.
"He wants what he wants and he knew what he needed to do to make the department run successfully," Chimera said. "We respect him very much for that. He stands up for what he believes and we wouldn't have it any other way."
Chimera wished Brady well, saying that he earned his fun.
"We will really miss his relationship with the department. He had the highest regard for the officers to do a great job," she said.
Behr said she has known Brady since she started her career in 1976. She said Brady was a very dear friend of late Whitemarsh Township Police Chief Richard Zolko.
"I looked to (Brady) for mentoring," Behr said. "He's a senior chief in the county right now. He's a leader in the respect of the chiefs' association. A lot of people know him."
Behr said the sendoff was bittersweet.
"He is leaving honorably after so many years of dedicated service. I am proud to know him," she said.
Brady was always on the cutting edge of law enforcement.
"He is going to be a benchmark for future chiefs and officers at Montgomery Township," Behr said. "The level of dedication he left in the township will be hard to succeed. He's a symbol of loyalty."